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My sanctuary

Photo essay — One throws punches, the other prays. A third one shakes her ass. We met six students in the places where they go to be alone.

We all have a sanctuary where we got to find peace, inspiration and new energy. Places where we recharge or disconnect. Where we are free to express ourselves as the people we are – either alone or with others. Photographer Daniel Hjorth met six students in their safe havens, to understand why we need them and what it is like to break free.

Walking on the harbour front

• Yasmina Kilani
• 22 years
• Bachelor student of history

 

I feel a particular sense of freedom when I am out and alone in nature. I associate it with a particular type of peace. If I have been on the KUA campus all day with the books, I sometimes ride my bike home, put on my wellies, and go out to watch the sunset at the end of the Sydhavnen harbor.

It’s about getting away from the city to a place where there are not so many people looking at me, or aware of me.

It’s really an old landfill, but it is as if nature has completely taken over, and the trees and shrubs have fought their way through the waste and taken over the place. It is quite unique.

For me, it’s a place where I can be myself and set my mind free. It’s about getting away from the city to a place where there are not so many people looking at me or aware of me. Nature decides for me the way I move out there. There is no specific path to follow. This does something to your body. It gives me the space to be myself.

Evening runs

• Thore Davis
• 25 years
• Studies 4th semester information science and culture communication

 

I usually do an evening run when I am still warm after biking back from KUA. Then I jump into a pair of running shoes and do a run through the Frederiksberg, Bispebjerg districts or the parks around Nørrebro.

I’ve dropped all my ideas of ​​performance and all this tracking business.

For me, running is much more than just forward movement. When I run, I feel as if I am in contact with primeval man. It can be a really potent source of energy. In the past, it was a lot about sports and achieving results, but I’ve dropped all my ideas of ​​performance and all this tracking business. It’s not anti-social. I watch a lot of people when I run, and I have time to stop. I really feel free during my run, and I mostly do it because it is good for the head and good for the body.

 

Burlesque

• Maia Norstved Skøtt
• 23 years
• Studying for a master’s in sociology

 

I go to burlesque every Tuesday for two hours. I started in February last year and it was my friend who introduced me.

When I’m here, I leave my worries behind and get a kind of strength from expressing myself.

Burlesque is a kind of sensual power-woman dancing. When I’m here, I leave my worries behind and get a kind of strength from expressing myself. I do not have to feel a stigma over shaking my ass just because my BMI is higher than some number. I like this because it’s my safe haven.

 

Morning prayer

• Lars Boje Sønderby Jensen
• 24 years
• Studying for a master’s in philosophy

I do my morning prayers every day, and sometimes even before I go to bed. For me, prayer is a way of finding repose, to set free my innermost thoughts. In prayer, I find the space to express to God who I am, so that I can stand, naked, before him and say ‘here I am’.

For me, prayer is a way of finding repose

There may be many different emotions associated with prayer. It can be both a feeling of joy, and of sorrow, because it is here that I also come to understand things about myself that I’m not necessarily proud of, but which I can bring forth and be honest about. It’s a place where I can let go.

 

Winter bathing

• Bolette Jørgensen
• 23 years
• Studying 6th semester political science

 

I usually do winter bathing once a week from October to May. I started in high school when I was under a lot of pressure, because I had not yet learned how to take a break from the school work. I found that the cold water worked wonders for me, like a valve that let everything out when everything was boiling inside.

With a book-oriented programme of study, it’s good to have a bodily experience

Winter bathing is a very physical experience. With a book-oriented programme of study, it’s good to have a bodily experience to get away from your head. When you jump in to the very cold water you get a sense of invincibility. You should not wait before doing it, you just have to do it. I am practicing staying at least three seconds in the water.

 

Mixed martial arts (MMA)

• Sebastian Tobias-Renstrøm
• 24 years
• Studying for a master’s in psychology

 

Martial arts is the ultimate realization of being. I can already feel the transformation, when I’m on my way up the stairs to the club. I get lifted out of the daily universe of speculation and deliberation that can drive you to madness. You can feel that you exist when there is an opponent in front of you who wants to punch you to the floor. When you are doing the sparring, your body is a direct extension of your will. Everything else disappears. You are absolutely present. The only thing you feel is your body. It’s so liberating for someone like me.

You can feel that you exist when there is an opponent in front of you who wants to punch you to the floor.

When you do a lot of work with your brain, it’s extremely liberating just to do what you are told – sure, I will do 20 push ups! – without reflecting over why. You can’t think in an abstract way when you are standing there being punched in the head. Then I’m free! When I can feel the muscles burning, and I need a break because I cannot do any more push-ups: Then I cannot wonder about whether the world exists or not. And this is nice every now and then.

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